This weekend I treated myself to a sunny Autumnal weekend in New South Wales’ famous wine region, the Hunter Valley. Established in the early 1800s, this small region just two hours North of Sydney is home to over 100 Vineyards, some of the states top restaurants and stunning agricultural scenery. It’s the perfect destination for wine tasting, stocking up on cases of your favourite wine, or simply soaking up the sun in one of the most laid back and indulgent parts of the state.
However, with most tours offering cheese and wine matching, and almost every vineyard explaining what meat or fish your chosen wine would work well with, it’s not necessarily the most vegan friendly area to visit for culinary delights. In fact, aside from the wide range of delicious Olives you can sample in the many gift shops across the valley, the majority of restaurants and cafe’s who specialise in local produce near by are either lacking vegetarian options of any kind, or are heavily cheese and cream based. There’s certainly some work to be done in welcoming the increasing number of plant powered Australians and visitors!
But less than an hours drive of the Hunter Valley, the city of Newcastle is the home to a number of vegan friendly eateries; perfect for the drive to or from vineyard hopping your way through the beautiful Hunter wines. Bonta Vera, Newcastle’s first 100% plant based cafe, is a must if you are venturing up this way and is worth the little detour.
Discreetly hidden within an old Courthouse at the end of a residential road in a small town called Minmi, Bonta Vera is easily missed by passersby. But despite its remote location and modest furnishings, this little cafe is rather revolutionary in its take on simple, hearty food with experimental ingredients.
For the last four months I have been taking for granted Sydney’s extensive offerings for vegan cuisine in a city so famed for its international and healthy food options. But in a rural town so near to a city with plenty of choice, this little cafe seemed – at least when I visited – frequented by locals of all shapes and sizes who happily chomped into their vegan meals regardless of their lifestyle.
The menu consisted of a great selection of burgers – I tried the pulled “Beef” and “chicken” schnitzel – delicious salads, a variety of “meat” sandwiches and THE most amazing peanut butter hot chocolate I have had in a long time!
The portion sizes were pretty epic, with a very generous helping of your choice of potato or sweet potato fries, and burgers stuffed with salad and vegan coleslaw.
There was ample seating inside, and a few tables outside on the veranda looking out over stunning views of peaceful rolling countryside. The atmosphere was a great combination of vegan inspiration, with cute little signs of cruelty free quotes and vegan gingerbread men on the counter, but it could still easily be your average local cafe when you rock up to get a tasty burger and a milkshake.
If you’re in the Hunter Valley region and want to try some top notch vegan food, I would highly recommend taking the detour to Bonta Vera. I know I’ll be back, if only just to try the delicious cheesecakes that my burger belly couldn’t fit in!